Nintendo Direct E3 2019 – E3 Thoughts

Expectations: 

Nintendo holds a firm advantage compared to both Microsoft and Sony this year: Nintendo is not in a transitional phase to its next generation of consoles. Therefore, they have established a solid foundation to the year’s end in terms of their first-party and exclusive offerings. In order to maintain the goodwill they have established since the launch of the Nintendo Switch, they must strive to meet preconceived expectations and maintain promises (the new Animal Crossing remains a major wild card). And while not immediately necessary, it is important to signal a strong 2020 lineup in advance to avoid some of the gaps in game releases in 2018 (i.e. relying on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to carry the year).

“The Hero” from Dragon Quest revealed as the second DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and will be released in the summer of 2019 

Highly rumored and anticipated, we finally have Dragon Quest representation in Super Smash Bros.! As such an iconic franchise in Japan, it remained quite a surprise that it took nearly twenty years for them to finally arrive, but I am still excited to see what they bring to the table. Unless I have misremembered my Dragon Quest heroes (despite only playing one of the titles), I believe the four playable alternates of this character originate from Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV, Dragon Quest VIII, and Dragon Quest XI, which seem to be the most popular of the protagonists. In terms of his moveset, he wields a sword and uses magic, placing him within a similar camp to Link in terms of versatility and strategy.

While I am not too familiar with the entirety of Dragon Quest, there is a chance that the appearance of these characters will spur a great interest to play some of the older titles, and perhaps a certain one coming to the Nintendo Switch :).

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age demonstrated in greater detail, with a launch on September 27th, 2019

A great tie in with the character’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dragon Quest XI is ported in its full glory to the Nintendo Switch, with brand-new content and refinements to enhance the core experience from its other current-gen console counterparts. In fact, I have been holding off from purchasing the title on Playstation 4 in anticipation for this release on Nintendo Switch. There’s no doubt it’ll immerse me within its universe for potentially hundreds of hours!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 gameplay shown off with new features, maintaining a tentative release year of 2019

Depending on the player, Luigi’s Mansion 3 will either represent a hopeful continuation of the series or one rooted in deep skepticism. As someone who wasn’t so positive on the sequel to the original game, it is refreshing to see a return to one large mansion (or hotel in this case) to explore in great detail. Already the graphical enhancements on the Nintendo Switch give the entire game a greater deal of personality than ever before, but I am intrigued by the refinements that will be made to the gameplay mechanics, specially the Poltergeist G-00. I am concerned that it still remains a “2019” without a concrete idea of a release date or window, which indicates the game might release in the November or December timeframe. Whatever the case, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a perfect fit for the console, and its ability to leave an impression will be dependent on its charm and variety.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics arriving on the Nintendo Switch in 2019

Personally, I was most interested in the fact that a Netflix logo appeared on the bottom right screen when the trailer was showing, leading me to believe the app would finally bless its way onto the console. Unfortunately it did not pan out like that, but in its place was a new tactical game based on a puppet movie released some time ago. I have only heard about this property once in the past decade, so I can assume that it probably won’t be one that I pick up anytime soon. In the meantime, give us Netflix!

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening shows off more gameplay, will release on September 20th, 2019 

One of the intrinsic fears I had as a fan of the The Legend of Zelda franchise was that the entire series might shift away from its classic roots towards a structure more akin to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Fortunately, Link’s Awakening quells those fears with a charming art style and top-down view that I am ecstatic to jump into. I have never played Link’s Awakening either, and this seems like the best version to play. We also caught a glimpse of a “dungeon maker” that seemingly allows you to assemble portions of dungeons you visited into your own, which seems fun in theory, but one that will be tested when it arrives. Undoubtedly another game to add to my Nintendo Switch library.

Trials of Mana announced for release sometime in 2020 

The game appears to be an original entry in the Mana series, and whether it differs heavily in terms of its narrative approach or gameplay structure is unknown to me. Hopefully it remains an accessible game for newcomers to the series, as it happens to be an action role-playing game (one of my favorite genres) and it appears to be an attempt to revitalize an old franchise, which is further demonstrated by the next announcement.

Collection of Mana releasing in the West for purchase the same day

In an attempt to bring curious gamers into the world of Mana, this collection appears to be the most cohesive way of jumping in. As the trailer cycled through the three games, I noticed that one of them was also titled “Trials of Mana”, so I am guessing that the new game coming in 2020 is a remake? We’ll have to see, but I know from online discourse that this collection has been highly anticipated by Western fans (since it was exclusive to Japan for quite some time).

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt getting ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2019

Definitely one of the most surprising announcements from the Direct! In fact, I am stoked to see that CD Projekt Red was interested in bringing its titular game to the Nintendo Switch in some fashion, even if it resulted in some technical downgrades. On the Playstation 4, I invested roughly twenty hours into The Witcher III, but became overwhelmed at the amount of content that I eventually put the game down. However, the portability on Nintendo Switch makes this much more appealing, and if compelled enough I might pick it up later down the line.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses shows off more story details, reaffirms its release on July 26th, 2019

For a second, I thought I was watching a completely different trailer for a solid thirty seconds before it dawned on me that there was one quick explanation: the game appears to feature a major timeskip that results in warfare amongst the three major factions. This trailer alone spurred greater excitement as someone that has already committed to purchasing the game on its release day, since it implies the story will take a more tragic and solemn turn than I anticipated. It also spurs a great amount of intrigue; perhaps the house you choose to teach and the quality of your teaching might impact the way the story plays out? It won’t be long until Fire Emblem: Three Houses releases, so we might have to wait until then!

Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 coming to the Nintendo Switch in the fall of 2019

It’s fantastic to know that a multitude of mainline Resident Evil titles are finding a home on Nintendo Switch. If this consistency remains, I could foresee a future where nearly all the mainline games in the franchise release in some form or fashion on the console. Resident Evil 4 does seem to be a series high point though, and I cannot testify to the quality of the other titles. Either way, it is nice to see the gesture from Capcom to spread the word about Resident Evil in the recent years.

No More Heroes III revealed, with a tentative release in 2020.

Travis Touchdown is back once again, bringing his glory and style to the Nintendo Switch in a continuation to the mainline series. Suda51 brings a vigor to the series that distinguishes it from the rest, and I hope to see what his newest development venture will bring next year. Hopefully this means that ports of the first two games in the No More Heroes series arrive!

Contra: Rogue Corps announced with a release date of September 24th, 2019. A Contra Anniversary Collection was shown alongside it with a release immediately on the Nintendo eShop. 

I combined the two announcements not only because they were related, but due to the fact that I have absolutely no experience with the Contra. Its history goes back a couple decades though, and with it a dedicated fanbase itching to play or replay the games in some manner. And with the collection shadow-dropping on the Nintendo eShop, excitement for Contra is at its peak.

Daemon x Machina shown off in more detail, given a release date of September 13th, 2019

Earlier in the year, I had an opportunity to play the demo of Daemon x Machina. And while I enjoyed the aesthetic and the more open approach that it took to mech-fighting, there were some key issues that I had with the game that prevented me from becoming fully invested. Since players had the opportunity to write in feedback for the game, I am hopeful that changes were implemented to make Daemon x Machina the absolute best it can be.

Panzer Dragoon announced for the Nintendo Switch with a release in the winter

A SEGA intellectual property that originated with a heavy emphasis on rail-shooting, Panzer Dragoon makes a return on the Nintendo Switch with a remake of the original title. This was also a curveball announcement, as the last new release for this franchise was sometime back in 2002. Whether it can cultivate a new audience begins and ends with the dedication of the development team to recreate the magic of the original for a current-generation platform.

Poké Ball Plus announced to be compatible with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield

A small but neat announcement that harkens back to the days where avid trainers could use their Pokéwalker to allow their pocket monsters to walk with them to new places and areas, all while discovering items and gaining experience that could be returned to the base games. Since I tend to do a lot more walking and running than I once did, I might consider throwing the accessory in a backpack or pocket to make use of these features.

On another note, they revealed the Water-type Gym Leader named Nessa. This is a relatively minor announcement, but it correlates with a major leak of the game published on 4chan.

Astral Chain shown off, reconfirming its release date on August 30th, 2019

One of my most anticipated titles of the year, Astral Chain appears to be a unique approach for Platinum Games to develop a new universe by which it can implement a satisfying and dynamic combat system. Takahisa Taura is the leading game designer on the project, who previously worked on one of my favorite games of all time, Nier: Automata, with supervision under the legendary Hideki Kamiya. When Platinum Games puts their best foot forward in the action genre, they never seize to disappoint, and I sincerely hope Astral Chain becomes one for the memories this year.

Empire of Sin announced and releasing in the Spring of 2020

Not much gameplay was demonstrated of the title, although it appears to be rooted within the strategy genre. The game gives off a noire vibe, and I remain curious about what it will bring to the table. After further research into the game, it appears to be rooted within the Prohibition era in Chicago during the 1920s, and you play the role of a criminal mastermind attempting to expand your influence and stay dominant within the city. That in itself sounds extremely cool, and I will be on the lookout for more details in the coming months.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order coming out on July 19th, 2019

I hold some nostalgia for Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and it appears that this game is pulling the stops to include a plethora of heroes sprawling the Marvel Universe. Doubtful that I will be purchasing the game, but the fact that it will be a Nintendo Switch exclusive will be a great addition to the library, especially riding off the the tail of Avengers: Endgame.

Cadence of Hyrule releasing on June 13th 

At the time of this writing, Cadence of Hyrule will be releasing tomorrow! The game is inspired by Crypt of the NecroDancer, infusing rhythm mechanics with quick action. While it was not spotlighted too heavily during the presentation, it should be noted that a collaboration like this is quite major for a company like Nintendo, as they licensed out The Legend of Zelda to make this happen. I’ll keep an eye out for more footage to determine whether I’ll purchase it, or even try Crypt of the NecroDancer to gain a taste of the gameplay.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 shown off and given a release window in the month of November

My memories with the Mario and Sonic collaborations for the Olympic Games are extremely fond. In fact, it happens to be the game that introduced me to Sonic the Hedgehog during a time where my only gaming knowledge lied with Nintendo. The 2010 Winter Olympics title was a fantastic party game that I enjoyed with friends, and even the 2012 Olympics were a fun time. I became disinterested when the 2014 game released, but I am not exaggerating when I admit that this new outing in the series has my hyped. With a bunch of new sporting events to participate in, this is the “Mario Party” that I have been waiting for, and I anticipate a purchase sometime before the actual 2020 Olympics in Tokyo happen.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons revealed with new gameplay footage, alongside an announcement of a delay to March 20th, 2020

Looks like our villagers will be traveling to a deserted island sponsored by Nook Inc. I can only wonder what Mr. Nooks’s intentions were….

Either way, I am quite happy that our debut footage of the new Animal Crossing appeared in the presentation. Graphically, it appears elevated significantly from the days on the Nintendo 3DS, with a beautiful view of the ocean at every corner. In a new twist as well, there’s a chance that the player might be the first one to inhabit the deserted island and begin a new life for themselves, making it a tourist destination for other guests to start their new lives. Unfortunately, the game was pushed from its 2019 release window into 2020, but a release date was given of March 20th. That’s about nine more months of waiting, but I can only be optimistic about the countless hours I’ll invest to ensure that my town is a place anyone can call home :).

From there, a highlight reel demonstrates multiple titles coming to the Nintendo Switch in the near future

There are too many announcements embedded within the highlight reel to cover each one extensively, but some of the personal favorites included Hollow Knight: Silksong, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and of course, Super Mario Maker 2. There was a great selection of titles that will certainly have a great range of appeal. Heck Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is coming in the fall!

Banjo-Kazooie announced as the third DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with a release in the fall of 2019

I might not be the most familiar with Banjo-Kazooie (only playing some of the original and Nuts and Bolts). But one thing cannot be understated: Banjo-Kazooie represents a Western icon in the platforming genre that left a great impression on its players on the Nintendo 64. And I am ecstatic and participating in the immense excitement that players must be feeling to witness such a beloved character from Rare finally join the ranks of Super Smash Bros. I was irrationally and extraordinarily hyped to see Joker make it into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as he was a character on a small wish list of characters I thought had no chance, so I deeply sympathize with the feelings of those eagerly holding out hope for Banjo-Kazooie. It’ll be some (excruciating) time until he is added into the game, but Banjo-Kazooie sets the standard for the characters that will be released after him.

The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild announced to be in development

First off……………HOLY MOTHER OF HYRULE WERE GETTING ANOTHER ZELDA GAME ON THE NINTENDO SWITCH IN THE NEAR FUTURE AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Second, I do want to admit that I had a small feeling that another mainline Zelda game was going to be teased by the end of the year, but never did I expect E3 to be the place to announce it! Seemingly following in the footsteps of Majora’s Mask, the sequel appears to expand upon the foundations of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in an organic way narratively. Witnessing Zelda explore the ruins alongside Link was a genuine surprise, and it spurs hope that she will play a more active role in the game. There is plenty of intrigue to hold me over until the end of the year, and I guarantee that there will be endless speculation on my behalf to uncover the secrets lying beneath Hyrule, and the calamity that may arise.

The fact an announcement was made today indicates that the sequel might not be as far off as some are expecting. With good time, I could envision a Holiday 2020 release. We have to consider that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s development was likely near completion sometime in 2016 (pushed to March 2017 to launch alongside Nintendo Switch), with pre-production initiating shortly thereafter. With a basis to work with in the game, the team can focus on expanding upon the content with new weapons, mechanics, and story elements. Given the mastercraft of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as an open-air experience, the development team can learn from the few mistakes in that game and refine them to create another legendary title.

 

Final Grade: A

In a strange turn of events, Nintendo managed to host one of the greatest Directs in the recent history of the company, with few boring moments and a plethora of exhilarating ones. With the exception of a small handful of titles, gameplay was amicably demonstrated for the upcoming releases that substantiated the work of the development teams in creating thrilling experiences. And they went in guns blazing: two character reveals for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, more footage for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Astral Chain, a port of The Witcher III, and plenty of The Legend of Zelda with Link’s Awakening and an announcement for the next mainline title. There were some disappointments scattered throughout; Animal Crossing: New Horizons was delayed into March, and there were some key titles that I am surprised have yet to appear (i.e. Pikmin). Yet I cannot ignore that in addition to affirming a powerful lineup of games for the rest of the year, 2020 is looking bright!

 

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